An intraparty rift has emerged within the Voice of the People Party (HAS Party) following a meeting between the party’s chairman, Numan Kurtulmuş, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday over a possible merger of their two parties.
HAS Party Deputy Chairman Mehmet Bekaroğlu, who said through his Twitter account on Thursday that Kurtulmuş is making a mistake, held a press conference on Friday during which he continued to criticize Kurtulmuş’s move. Bekaroğlu stated that Kurtulmuş’s plans to merge the HAS Party with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) have given the impression that the HAS Party will be shut down. “Kurtulmuş will make an official statement about what is going on [within the HAS Party]. I am sharing with you my personal views. Nothing will be the same in the HAS Party,” he said.
Bekaroğlu also claimed that the HAS Party leader had already made the decision to merge his party with the AK Party and is now engaged in “procedural work” to this end. “For us, this is already completed business. They [HAS Party officials] are now doing the procedural work. Even though this is the case, provincial chairmen of the party will attend meetings of the founders’ committee of the party and express our disapproval [of the plans to merge with the AK Party],” he noted.
Kurtulmuş founded the HAS Party in late 2010 after resigning from the Felicity Party (SP) following a long-standing intraparty rift. Erdoğan’s AK Party appeals to the same constituent base as the HAS Party as it emerged from the predecessor of the SP, the Virtue Party (FP). Bekaroğlu also complained that he does not understand why Kurtulmuş would want to merge the party with the AK Party because the reasons behind the founding of the HAS Party still exist and are still valid. He also criticized the ruling AK Party, claiming there has not been any major development in the country since 2010.
“People’s demands have not been met by the government. Bloodshed is continuing in the country. The problems of the Kurds and religious people have still not been solved. The Sept. 12  and Feb. 28  coup cases are not progressing. We still have trouble with university entrance exams. Workers and the elderly are still struggling financially,” Bekaroğlu said.
Bekaroğlu concluded by offering his best wishes to Kurtulmuş, adding that he has no personal problems with the party leader. “We are not blaming our party leader or anyone else. What we are asking from him is to be sincere and transparent. We do not want him to tell us the excuses he finds to ease his own mind. He may say he is planning to join the AK Party in order to serve the country or to be more powerful in politics. But he should not say that he will join that party to strengthen Turkey. We do not think that is correct. Neither Erdoğan nor Kurtulmuş’s projects will save Turkey.”